Review: Thrunite TH20 Headlamp - XP-L - 1xAA/14500

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Review: Thrunite TH20 Headlamp - XP-L - 1xAA/14500

Thrunite TH20 Headlamp Review by RMM

As a forward, this is my first “paid” review ever (I received the review sample for free), and it may be my last depending on what Thrunite thinks of this review wink. I certainly took a while to get it done, and Thrunite was probably getting worried, but I wanted to use the light for a while before writing up the review and I am pretty busy. I get approached all the time by companies to do reviews, but I usually turn them down because they either want me to let them inspect my review before posting it (Thrunite did not see any part of this review before I posted it) or really the product isn’t that interesting to me---besides, I’m not really in the business of reviewing things and it takes a lot of time to do even a mediocre review (warning: this one is mediocre tongue-out).

 

I was interested in this headlamp because it is one of the few that is designed to run on both AA and 14500 with full regulation and modes. I have lots of 18650 headlamps, one CR123/16340 headlamp, and one AA only headlamp, so I wanted to see how this one stacked up.

 

I don’t currently sell any Thrunite products, and don’t really plan to in the future (but that might change---never say never), so I really don’t have a “pony in this race”.

 

I’m not going to take too much time or space here with a crazy amount of product photos---if that’s what you want, check out Thrunite’s product page.

 

I told Thrunite I would be brutally honest in my review, so here it is:

 

First Impressions / Overall Look

The headlamp came packaged in a little brown box that was easy to open. Inside I found the headlamp in a nice die-cut foam cutout, along with a spare rubber holder, two spare o-rings, a desiccant pack, and a surprisingly non-“Chinglish” (good!) user manual (also in five other languages!).

 

The headlamp is simple, with a single XP-L HD up front and a very shallow OP reflector. Should be floody. Matte black anodizing and machining look nice, with no noticeable imperfections.

 

The black headband is made from your typical stretchy nylon material, which is pretty firm and seems like it will hold up well. The headlamp isn’t very bouncy and the headband doesn't dig into my forehead, which makes it comfortable enough to use for hours at a time.

 

Opening up the battery tube, the threads are anodized and pre-lubricated, with a single o-ring that is appropriately sized with just enough drag to let you know that there is a good seal going on. Some splash tests and use in the snow and rain confirmed the seal. Looking inside the tube, you can see the mechanical reverse polarity protection, so button top batteries are required.

 

All of the Alkaline AAs I tried worked, as did my Eneloops; 14500s, however, are a mixed bag.  With longer protected 14500s (such as my Efest 14500 and Protected Sanyo UR14500P) being too long too fit. BUMMER. If your battery is much longer than a standard AA it’s not going to fit. I did get some of my old XTAR protected 14500s to fit for 14500 testing, but even though they are the shortest protected 14500s I’ve seen they are still tight and I would prefer to use something with more capacity. There is plenty of spring in the tailcap, so if the tube were made just a few millimeters longer everything would fit.

 

Summary of Manufacturer’s Specifications

  • LED: CREE XP-L V6
  • Mode & Runtime (Tested with an Eneloop AA 2450mAh):
    • Firefly (0.3 lumens, 14 days)
    • Low (1.6 lumens, 21 hours)
    • High (230 lumens, 95 minutes)
    • Turbo (250 lumens, 93 minutes)
    • Batteries: 1x AA or 1x14500
    • Working Voltage: 0.9-4.2v
    • Reflector Finish: Orange Peel
    • Beam Distance: 67 meters maximum
    • Dimensions: 70mm x 24.5mm
    • Weight: 96 grams (without battery)
    • IPX-8 Waterproof
    • 2-Meters Impact Resistant
    • Aircraft Grade Aluminum Body --- Hard Anodized
    • Spares Included: O-rings; Spare Rubber Holder

User Interface

The user interface is simple, yet versatile. I like it a lot after using the light and it was easy to figure out. In a nutshell, the user interface is as follows:

  • From off:
    • Short click brings you back to the last used mode level
    • Long press begins ramping from lowest firefly level
    • Double click takes you to high
    • Another double click takes you to SOS
  • When already on:
    • Short click turns off the light
    • Long press begins ramping, with short blinking indicators letting you know you’ve hit the highest or lowest level
    • Double click takes you to high
    • Another double click takes you to SOS

All-in-all I think it’s an excellent user interface. I personally wouldn’t want anything more.

 

Tint and Beam Pattern

OK, let’s get this out of the way first---the tint on my particular sample is UGLY. I haven’t seen a Cree LED with this sort of muddy green tint for a long time. Nearly everyone I know who has seen or used the light has commented on the greenish/yellowish tint of the light. I’m not sure what ANSI bin this thing is supposed to be, but it isn’t good; it looks like the last time I put a dedomed LED in some gasoline and forgot it about it for a few weeks.  yell  Tint snobs around the world groan in agony every time this LED emits photons.

EDIT:  It looks like a few other BLF members have received samples with decent emitters, so you may get a nicer emitter if you order one.  

The good thing is that the beam itself is fairly good---with a wide and smooth hotspot with even more spill.  It is great for using up close, since normal arm’s length you aren’t going to end up with spots in your vision from being too bright. Definitely not a thrower, but IMO that’s not the main purpose for most headlamps---especially not a AA headlamp since they lack the sheer power.

 

Overall, a very nice and useful beam, but the tint is not good. Plenty of output for normal usage and it goes pretty low too, with a very nice sub-lumen moonlight level.

 

Compared To


Here are a few thoughts of how the TH20 compares to a few other headlamps I own:

 

i. XTAR H3 Warboy – 1x18650 – XM-L2 – 95 grams RTR

 

Shameless Plug money-mouth---->The Warboy has much more output and runtime (1000 lumens for almost 3 hours), but it’s also more expensive ($49) and is heavier (151 grams with the battery and strap vs. 95 grams for the TH20 w/ battery and strap).

 

The Warboy bounces a bit more due to the extra weight up front. The moonlight/firefly isn’t quite as low as the TH20, but it is plenty low for most situations.


Another advantage for the Warboy? You can get it in cool white or warm white instead of in puke green tint. Wink

 

That said, there is some advantage to having AA capability in a light---especially for gifting to someone who isn’t into lithium-ion batteries, so I really consider the AA lights to be in a different class.

 

ii. XTAR H2 Commander – 1x16340 / CR123 – XP-G2 – 95 grams RTR

 

The commander is relatively similar in size and output to the TH20. The output is slightly better on the H2, and the runtime is much longer with a single 16340 or CR123 than the TH20, but again you have to use lithium-ion batteries.   I would rate the user interface on the TH20 as superior to the H2’s interface.

 

I think that XTAR discontinued this model. I bought mine at blowout pricing in 2015.

 

iii. Energizer – 1xAA – 91 grams RTR

 

I can’t even remember for sure where I got this one---it was probably at Wal-Mart or Costco, but I used this one heavily for several years (it has been glued together more than once). It is lightweight and comfortable, but the output is probably only 50-75 lumens and it has horrible slideshow PWM dimming. The TH20 is about 8 years newer technology and it shows. The TH20 is probably better than the average AA headlamp you can buy at most of your local stores right now.

 

iv. Custom FET+7135 XP-G2 2x18650 Zoomie – 268 grams RTR

 

Not really a fair comparison here because this is probably my favorite headlamp. Of course, you can’t just buy one set up like this---but for extended wear this light is very comfortable and offers great runtime with 2x18650s. Smooth and extremely wide flood up close, with the ability to focus for distance scanning.

 

This one is sporting a DTP mounted 80+ CRI XM-L2 7-series LED with an FET+7135 driver with thermal protection. Moonlight all the way up to direct-drive. This makes the TH20 look like a toy, but it is a much bigger headlamp and is custom built. Not really a fair comparison, but I thought I’d throw it in there since it is the headlamp I have used the most.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the TH20 is a nice headlamp that is reasonably priced. The user interface is nice---simple, yet versatile. The weight and build quality are good, as is the beam quality. The tint on my sample is downright nasty, but you might be lucky and get something better. It’s a bummer that the tube is too short for most protected 14500s. For the price, I think I could recommend this headlamp to someone who was looking for a nice AA headlamp.

 

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced (~$30)
  • Good build quality and lightweight
  • Good output and runtime on both AA and 14500 (but see cons below for 14500 fitment)
  • Nice user interface with ramping, low enough low level, and easy access to high

Cons:

  • Nasty LED tint (but your sample may be better)
    • EDIT:  It looks like a few other BLF members have indeed received samples with nice emitters, so you may get one too.  See posts below for examples.
  • Too short to fit most protected 14500s

Where to Buy?

It looks like you can buy these headlamps either direct from Thrunite w/ 5% off with coupon code THRUNITE , or through their Amazon store.  

 

FYI, I don't get any kickback from any of these links or coupons codes.

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Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 12:28
RobertB
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Thanks for the review Richard. No low voltage cutoff?

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Great review Richard , thanks !

RobertB wrote:
Thanks for the review Richard. No low voltage cutoff?

The same thing with Archer 1A V3 , which i reviewed (using 14500) .

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RobertB wrote:
Thanks for the review Richard. No low voltage cutoff?

Good question...I'm not sure if my protected battery or the light cut off first.  Let me put an unprotected 14500 in there and I'll let you know.

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I guess it can’t have low voltage cutoff, otherwise AA’s would never work..duh!

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First let me say thanks for doing the review.
I think the review is fine , as you covered all the bases and the opinion and views of someone as highly regarded as yourself , should speak volumes as to the quality of the product.

I think maybe I got lucky with the sample I got to review though , as mine does not have any green tint to it at all.
Here it is on High Mode and on Turbo with a pure white garage door.

15 feet (High Mode)

Turbo Mode

Click any link to see MY REVIEWS:

Maxtoch M24 Sniper / Maxtoch 2X Shooter (2016 factory dedomed) , 2X - XHP 70.2 /// ### ThruNite // Archer 2A V3 / Ti4T / TN4A HI / TH10 / TH20 / C2 Mini / TC12 V2 / T01 / MCC-4S /// ###  Olight // H2R Nova , S10R III / S30R III / H1 Nova / H1 R Nova / X7 Marauder //// Orca T11 / Nitecore EC20 / BLF A6 / Custom Convoy C8 / Lixada Triple 3800LM / Lixada 1000LM / LuxStone X30 / Manker E02 / Manker E14 II / Small Sun ZY-T43 / Warsun X60  //////// ### Thorfire /// PF03PF04 , Upgraded PF04 , C8 , S-50 ,  VG-10 , VG25 , C8s , BL30 , TK4A  , S1 , VG15 S //// Atactical A1S , A1 (original) , A2 headlamp //// Acebeam L16 /// Massdrop (Lumintop) Brass EDC

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RobertB wrote:
I guess it can't have low voltage cutoff, otherwise AA's would never work..duh!

No, it could still have it.  Basically, the firmware logic will say if the voltage is below 2.5V disable low voltage protection, but if the voltage is 2.5-4V then look at it.

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Thanks for the review. I have previous reviewed the TH20, and it is currently my favourite headlamp for URBEX or when light painting. A few points where I would differ in the analysis:

  • Keeppower protected 840mAh 14500 (2015 version – 52.7mm long) fits with no issues.
  • Neutral white tint is better than the cool white – yellow with a hint of lime.
  • It is not lightweight compared to 14500 peers, thought is lightweight compared to 18650 lights. The extra weight seems to make it very tough though!
  • Low voltage protection appeared to work during my review (though I can’t rule out the cells protection circuit).
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◦Firefly (0.3 lumens, 14 days)
◦Low (1.6 lumens, 21 hours)
◦High (230 lumens, 95 minutes)
◦Turbo (250 lumens, 93 minutes)

Fo Realz? I’m not much impressed with this mode spacing. Minimal difference in brightness and runtime, why even have separate modes. Looks to me like we have a Firefly, a Moonlight, and two Highs. No low or medium. Is that consistent with the results you saw?


Keepin’ the “B” in BLF

Don wrote:
It sounds like the XM LEDs won’t really be suitable for flashlight use. Pity…

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robo819 wrote:
First let me say thanks for doing the review.
I think the review is fine , as you covered all the bases and the opinion and views of someone as highly regarded as yourself , should speak volumes as to the quality of the product.

I think maybe I got lucky with the sample I got to review though , as mine does not have any green tint to it at all.
Here it is on High Mode and on Turbo with a pure white garage door.

15 feet (High Mode)

Turbo Mode
!{width:60%}https://s20.postimg.org/9bbkop19p/15ft_Turbo.jpg!

My eyes do suck these days…but to me that looks a little on the green side. It almost reminds me of the XP-G3 tint.

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keltex78 wrote:

◦Firefly (0.3 lumens, 14 days)
◦Low (1.6 lumens, 21 hours)
◦High (230 lumens, 95 minutes)
◦Turbo (250 lumens, 93 minutes)

Fo Realz? I’m not much impressed with this mode spacing. Minimal difference in brightness and runtime, why even have separate modes. Looks to me like we have a Firefly, a Moonlight, and two Highs. No low or medium. Is that consistent with the results you saw?


It ramps between low and high!
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djburkes wrote:
robo819 wrote:
First let me say thanks for doing the review.
I think the review is fine , as you covered all the bases and the opinion and views of someone as highly regarded as yourself , should speak volumes as to the quality of the product.

I think maybe I got lucky with the sample I got to review though , as mine does not have any green tint to it at all.
Here it is on High Mode and on Turbo with a pure white garage door.

15 feet (High Mode)

Turbo Mode
!{width:60%}https://s20.postimg.org/9bbkop19p/15ft_Turbo.jpg!

My eyes do suck these days…but to me that looks a little on the green side. It almost reminds me of the XP-G3 tint.

Haha well it could be my eyes also because mine are getting way bad. I really don’t see a green tint though in the picture or outside , but you may be able to detect it a lot better than me also.

Click any link to see MY REVIEWS:

Maxtoch M24 Sniper / Maxtoch 2X Shooter (2016 factory dedomed) , 2X - XHP 70.2 /// ### ThruNite // Archer 2A V3 / Ti4T / TN4A HI / TH10 / TH20 / C2 Mini / TC12 V2 / T01 / MCC-4S /// ###  Olight // H2R Nova , S10R III / S30R III / H1 Nova / H1 R Nova / X7 Marauder //// Orca T11 / Nitecore EC20 / BLF A6 / Custom Convoy C8 / Lixada Triple 3800LM / Lixada 1000LM / LuxStone X30 / Manker E02 / Manker E14 II / Small Sun ZY-T43 / Warsun X60  //////// ### Thorfire /// PF03PF04 , Upgraded PF04 , C8 , S-50 ,  VG-10 , VG25 , C8s , BL30 , TK4A  , S1 , VG15 S //// Atactical A1S , A1 (original) , A2 headlamp //// Acebeam L16 /// Massdrop (Lumintop) Brass EDC

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stephenk wrote:
Thanks for the review. I have previous reviewed the TH20, and it is currently my favourite headlamp for URBEX or when light painting. A few points where I would differ in the analysis: * Keeppower protected 840mAh 14500 (2015 version - 52.7mm long) fits with no issues. * Neutral white tint is better than the cool white - yellow with a hint of lime. * It is not lightweight compared to 14500 peers, thought is lightweight compared to 18650 lights. The extra weight seems to make it very tough though! * Low voltage protection appeared to work during my review (though I can't rule out the cells protection circuit).

I'm glad that your battery fit, but tell me, do these batteries look like they fit?  I never said that no protected batteries fit; I said that two of the batteries I tried didn't fit and that there's no good reason for the tube not to be longer since there's plenty of spring in the tailcap.  Don't put words in my mouth.   

Efest @ 53.25mm --- not even close.

EVVA Protected UR14500P @ 52.51mm

My sample is NOT neutral white.  I know what neutral white looks like, and this isn't it.  Like I said, yours may be different, and it looks like yours and Robo819's copies may have a better LED than mine, but the one I got is a "garbage" tint, so when you buy this light you get to play the tint lottery.  

I'm glad that someone is here to keep me honest; remember, this is a review, not a paid advertisement like most "reviews" are. tongue-out  Shill on and keep calm.  

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RMM wrote:
I’m glad that someone is here to keep me honest; remember, this is a review, not a paid advertisement like most “reviews” are. tongue-out  Shill on and keep calm.  

I think that “shill on” comment could be seen as being offensive to many reviewers here. Yes, we may received the product for free, but many reviewers including myself have enough honesty and integrity to point out the negatives (or at least use politically careful wording) during a review. Reviewing takes a lot of effort and long time, and even getting a free product is often barely worth the effort.

Incidentally, as you pointed to a product that you do sell, during your review of a product that you don’t sell, then your “shill on” comment is a bit of a case of pot calling the kettle black.

Have a nice day. Smile

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So what we now know is there there is both a tint and length lottery. In other words unlike say Zebralight, Thrunite needs to work on their Production and QC departments adherence to spec (or the spec it self is too loose (see engineering and marketing)).

Let hope they take this fair and honest review and actually find more value in it then we consumers. Meaning if they actually take the time and make the effort to to correct the Tint and Length lottery then their product will be the better for it, and there is hopefully value in that to Thrunite.

Now we have a review that is just short of issuing corrective actions to Thrunite for free, that is a great deal for them. I say if they are smart they will see they received their monies worth.

(“It’s good that most people can’t remember their previous lives. Otherwise
things would be a lot more complicated than they already are.”
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Funny as I was thinking about a month or two ago how I rarely read about the “tint lottery” these days. In my recollection I used to read about the tint lottery so more often about, what 5 to 8 years ago?

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From Low 1.6 lumens to High 230 lumens? What just happened to the Medium..?

What a horrible mode spacing..

Ready. Set. Light.

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kamote1half wrote:
From Low 1.6 lumens to High 230 lumens? What just happened to the Medium..?

What a horrible mode spacing..

Variable, almost infinite output between low and high.

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Oh. My bad. I skipped reading the review when I saw the specs.

This really got my interest. I’m considering getting one.

Ready. Set. Light.

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kamote1half wrote:
Oh. My bad. I skipped reading the review when I saw the specs.

This really got my interest. I’m considering getting one.

Same here. Was surprised with this feature for this price. Check out a video on youtube, I think it’s pretty sweet.

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The light has pretty much infinitely variable levels due to the ramping feature.  Like I said, the user interface is pretty nice.  If you get one with a good emitter you'll be happy with it for a AA light.  

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I got two neutral ones. Both Gross green. So I modded with Nichia 219B and diffusion film. Much better.

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Just got mine in Neutral tint. My ~7 year old Zebralight H501 at 80 pure flood lumens was starting to show its age. Still a great light, but its old school XRE Q5 is a bit lacking.

Amazing how technology has advanced. TH20 is impressive, so much light from a single eneloop. I think I got lucky on the tint lotto. My only other light thats neutral (5000K) is an older Fenix LD25. My TH20 tint is very close to that at the 250L setting. Every Cree LED after the XRE I have found to have a pronounced tint shift when under driven. So I am willing to bet when my 14500 cells get here and I can drive the XPL harder, the TH20 will whiten up at the brighter settings.

Anyone have any impressions using Energizer 1.7V lithiums?

thanks!!

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Someone point me to a tutorial and where to get parts to swap this pee green time led with a Nichia 219b!

Gunga wrote:
I got two neutral ones. Both Gross green. So I modded with Nichia 219B and diffusion film. Much better.
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treoneo wrote:
Someone point me to a tutorial and where to get parts to swap this pee green time led with a Nichia 219b!

Gunga wrote:
I got two neutral ones. Both Gross green. So I modded with Nichia 219B and diffusion film. Much better.

I described how I swapped the led here:
http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/995466#comment-995466
A 219B, I guess a high CRI one of 4000K/4500K, can be found at Mountain Electronics, i.e. this one:
http://www.mtnelectronics.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=60_94...
Or look around here:
http://kaidomain.com/c/379.DIY-Flashlight-LED-Emitters
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I haven't checked this thread since the week I wrote the review after being criticized so heavily for noting that the emitter was green by the schills of the world.  I feel at least a little bit vindicated to know that I am not the only one who received a tint-bin-reject emitter.  

ThruNite did not complain about the review at all---in fact, they liked it and have asked me to do several since then, but I really don't have time to do them.  I just needed to do at least one "sponsored" review to get it out of my system.  wink

------

Anyhow, I would go with the 4000K 219C 90+ CRI at this point---higher flux bin, lower vF.

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Will that be able to go to the max 540 lumens? I thought Nichias don’t have very high output?

RMM wrote:

I haven’t checked this thread since the week I wrote the review after being criticized so heavily for noting that the emitter was green by the schills of the world.  I feel at least a little bit vindicated to know that I am not the only one who received a tint-bin-reject emitter.  


ThruNite did not complain about the review at all—-in fact, they liked it and have asked me to do several since then, but I really don’t have time to do them.  I just needed to do at least one “sponsored” review to get it out of my system.  wink


———


Anyhow, I would go with the 4000K 219C 90+ CRI at this point—-higher flux bin, lower vF.

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Ya for the life of me how does a flashlight screw up the specifications for dimensions so that ALL batteries in the specified type fit.

I truly don’t see how a MFG screws up what must be light design 101.

And as a tint snob one hopes that MFGs will respond to someone other then accounting, but we can keep hoping.

BTW love my H’2 don’t know why the killed it. Put a Nichia in there and its a great reading light.

(“It’s good that most people can’t remember their previous lives. Otherwise
things would be a lot more complicated than they already are.”
Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo)

Gunga
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Location: Vancouver, Canada

No. It won’t. I have nothing to measure it either but the nice tint is worth it for me. The nasty green tint wasn’t acceptable.

Gunga
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No. It won’t. I have nothing to measure it either but the nice tint is worth it for me. The nasty green tint wasn’t acceptable.

SomeFellow
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RMM wrote:

stephenk wrote:
Thanks for the review. I have previous reviewed the TH20, and it is currently my favourite headlamp for URBEX or when light painting. A few points where I would differ in the analysis: * Keeppower protected 840mAh 14500 (2015 version – 52.7mm long) fits with no issues. * Neutral white tint is better than the cool white – yellow with a hint of lime. * It is not lightweight compared to 14500 peers, thought is lightweight compared to 18650 lights. The extra weight seems to make it very tough though! * Low voltage protection appeared to work during my review (though I can’t rule out the cells protection circuit).

I’m glad that your battery fit, but tell me, do these batteries look like they fit?  I never said that no protected batteries fit; I said that two of the batteries I tried didn’t fit and that there’s no good reason for the tube not to be longer since there’s plenty of spring in the tailcap.  Don’t put words in my mouth.   


Efest at 53.25mm —- not even close.




EVVA Protected UR14500P @ 52.51mm




My sample is NOT neutral white.  I know what neutral white looks like, and this isn’t it.  Like I said, yours may be different, and it looks like yours and Robo819’s copies may have a better LED than mine, but the one I got is a “garbage” tint, so when you buy this light you get to play the tint lottery.  


I’m glad that someone is here to keep me honest; remember, this is a review, not a paid advertisement like most “reviews” are. tongue-out  Shill on and keep calm.  

Apologies for digging up dead discussions, but I am trying to get some clarity on what 14500 cells my TH20 will accept before ordering them.

I found it odd that stephenk reported a 52.7mm long cell fitting when you show a shorter 52.5mm cell protruding from the tube. That didn’t particularly make sense initially, but I may have thought of an explanation.

RMM, were you making your determination of 14500 cells not fitting the TH20 on the basis of the cell protruding from the tube?

That’s a reasonable assumption to make, but I just looked closely at the tail cap of mine to find that there does appear to be a significant amount of recessed space that could accommodate a cell protruding out of the tube. To my eye, it looks like there’s at least 4mm between the bottom of the tail-cap’s threads and the endplate, of which less than 2mm would be taken up by the spring when fully compressed.

Unfortunately I don’t have any cells that protrude from the tube to test it, but the design of my tailcap and tube interface certainly looks like there’s space to accommodate some protrusion.

I’m wondering if maybe you overlooked that aspect of the tailcap and assumed a protruding cell meant it doesn’t fit without trying to seal the tailcap? Or maybe they re-designed the tailcap to accommodate longer 14500 cells and you have an older version?

Thanks for any thoughts you can share

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